Expelled: EXPELLED is a bold attempt to return freedom to science, to support freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry and even freedom of thought. In science today you are simply not allowed to question the establishment position of Neo-Darwinism. Mr. Stein and the producers of EXPELLED believe that science itself has been inappropriately used by secular materialists as a tool to crush a theory that is an affront to their belief system—Intelligent Design. EXPELLED hopes to alert the general public to these facts:
- There is a competing hypothesis to Neo-Darwinism that is being suppressed by the scientific establishment through the persecution of scientists who dare to dissent from the "consensus view".
- The term "evolution" has many meanings and its lack of a concrete definition is used to disguise an atheistic idea about life's origins at taxpayer expense.
- Intelligent Design is not a Trojan horse being used to "get creationism into the schools" as Darwinists insist. ID is a minimal commitment to the idea that through the study of patterns in nature we can discern that intelligent causation is more likely than an unguided process. (Ironically, those who are most concerned that ID is a "backdoor to get religion into the classroom" ignore the fact that their own religion—atheism—is firmly entrenched and taught as a fact in public schools and universities.)
Our hope is that EXPELLED will be a catalyst for raising awareness about how scientific evidence about the biggest question ever asked (How did we get here?) is being distorted by elitists to prop up one theory—Materialism—while unethically excluding the other possibility—Design. If EXPELLED can help raise awareness to such a level that scientists may once again openly discuss BOTH possibilities for the existence of life without fear of persecution, we will have achieved our ultimate goal.
tothesource: How and why did Ben Stein come to be involved with this project?
Expelled: Premise Media approached Ben to be EXPELLED's host/interviewer because he fit the big three criteria Premise was looking for. First, we wanted someone whose brilliance was well established. Ben has been enormously successful in many fields, from politics (former presidential speech writer for Nixon and Ford) to economics (commentator on FOX News and columnist for the NY Times) to law (graduated top of his class at Yale Law School) to entertainment (successful as an actor in film, TV and as the host of his own game show "Win Ben Stein's Money") to other areas such as a pitchman for products and as a university professor. Second, Premise wanted somebody who is well liked and respected in the culture. Because of his work mentioned previously, Ben fit that requirement very well. Third, we wanted a hero who could explore this important but complicated topic with a sense of humor and wonderment. Few people are willing to go to the theater to watch an "important but boring" film. Ben enabled us to expose this attack on freedom in a funny, provocative, unsettling yet ultimately inspirational way that would hold the attention of the audience for 97 minutes.
Ben immediately connected with the film because he is so committed to protecting freedom. When Premise first approached Ben, the producers explained to him that it appeared widespread persecution was going on in the sciences that deal with the origin and development of life. We asked him if he was willing to go on a journey to see if this accusation was accurate and to see what else might be going on behind the scenes on this issue that makes it a cultural flashpoint. Ben was intrigued by the mystery and the challenge, but most importantly about investigating the possibility that freedom in science was being restricted.
tothesource: Word is out that best-selling atheist Richard Dawkins talks himself into a corner. Could you fill us in on that?
Expelled: As many of you know, Richard Dawkins has made a career out of attacking religion. He was behind the "documentary" film "Root of All Evil?". He is a frequent columnist, blogger and guest on cable news shows in which he claims religion is a "primitive superstition". He essentially attacks religion in every form of media available. His most recent assault comes in his international best seller "The God Delusion." The point is that Mr. Dawkins is very well versed in his arguments against God. But something rather shocking takes place when Mr. Stein asks Mr. Dawkins about the possibility that intelligent design might be useful in the area of genetics. Mr. Dawkins responds by laying out the "intriguing possibility" that life may have come into existence elsewhere in the universe and that this unknown intelligence seeded life on earth. Mr. Stein skillfully exposes the stunning contradiction in the foundation of Mr. Dawkins's thesis. That is, Mr. Dawkins is "intrigued" about the possibility that there could be an intelligent designer in the universe—just so long as that designer isn't God. Anyone who would suggest that there is a God designer is stupid, ignorant or evil.
What's so important about this moment is that Mr. Stein doesn't just expose the double-speak of Mr. Dawkins, but also that of his fellow Darwinists. Mr. Stein exposes what's really going on in this debate. The controversy isn't about the science; it's about the atheistic, materialistic philosophy of the elitist establishment. If the Darwinists discovered evidence of an alien designer they would be giddy. If they discovered evidence of God, they would be crushed, and would do everything in their power to dismiss the evidence as fraudulent or inconclusive.
tothesource: Obviously, you mean to supply the audience with information that has been suppressed, ignored, and distorted. Why is the mishandling of Intelligent Design so important?
Expelled: When freedom is restricted, progress stops. Let's use technology as an example. Engineers, doctors, researchers and indeed specialists in every field make breakthroughs because they are encouraged to examine all assumptions. In the competitive world of free-market thinkers there can be no sacred paradigms if you want to survive. This is not the case when it comes to Darwinism. The two key assumptions of Charles Darwin's theory—random mutation and natural selection—are not permitted to be challenged. Why? What justifies this sacred status? Evolutionary biologists approach their work assuming an undirected, unpredictable process. Intelligent Design theorists argue that this methodology is inefficient, taking more time, money and resources to make discoveries because the organism must be examined as one that developed with mistakes and blind alleys as opposed to specific engineering. Since biological systems are either designed or at least create the appearance of design, wouldn't it make more sense to approach biological research questions using a design perspective?
Aside from the unnecessary restriction of progress, there are other implications. For starters, the form of evolution that is taught in public schools and universities (Neo-Darwinism) is an atheistic proposition. The idea that science does not speak to metaphysical issues one way or the other is nonsense. Teaching a materialistic explanation for the origin and development of life is atheism by default. So the claim that Darwinism must be taught and Intelligent Design must be excluded in order to maintain separation of church and state is also hogwash. Religion is already deeply seated in classrooms across America in the form of Atheism. More importantly, is this a fair or accurate representation of the facts? No. It is intellectually dishonest to only teach materialism when this philosophy faces massive holes that are nowhere near being answered. (Where did physical laws come from? How did the galaxy/solar system/earth become so finely tuned in order to support life? How did life come from non-life? Where does information come from? How can mutations drive the expansion of life when they subtract information?) The common complaint by Darwinists is that this is a "God of the Gaps" argument, "It can't be explained, so God must have done it." However, ID theorists can make the same accusation against the default "Darwinist of the Gaps" position: "We can't prove how it happened yet, but a materialist explanation will eventually be found." What's wrong with simply presenting the facts and honestly saying that in these key areas, "We don't know the answers to these questions—one hypothesis is that there is a material explanation and another is that there is a design explanation."
Finally, the ID question is important because there are social consequences for any society that officially embraces a materialist philosophy. Materialism can provide scientific validation for ideas that devalue the sanctity of human life. As we point out in EXPELLED, Adolph Hitler used Darwinism as a justification for driving evolution forward by eliminating "the weak in body and mind" [Darwin's words in The Descent of Man]. Materialism has historically been used as scientific validation and permission for such social policies as eugenics, abortion and euthanasia. EXPELLED does NOT make the case that a secular/materialist society is a sufficient cause for a phenomenon like Nazism—however, we believe history proves it is a necessary condition.
tothesource: What has been the reaction to the film so far--especially by those, perhaps, most uncomfortable with what it reveals?
Expelled: EXPELLED generally provokes one of two reactions. Those people who believe that scientists should be free to ask any question and to investigate all possibilities—especially the biggest questions ever asked—are absolutely energized. They are profoundly moved by the way EXPELLED addresses the persecution of scientists by an elitist establishment that wants to pretend that it's disdain for Intelligent Design has nothing to do with a commitment to Atheistic materialism. These people are stunned and inspired that EXPELLED has exposed the true anti-religion motivations of people who have misappropriated science to advance their agenda.
As one might expect, a second reaction is that of disgust and horror that the sacred cow of Darwinism could be challenged in such a public way. It's helpful to remember that Darwinism and its academic promoters enjoy a favored position in their world. Challenges to the theory are simply not permitted within the scientific academy. When challenges do arise, they are quickly exterminated by an army of academics and their friends in the mainstream press. So Darwinists are inexperienced in dealing with competition to their ideas in an arena where they don't exert near complete control. They are also horrified that they must now publicly defend their actions against such a well-crafted argument.
Most of the negative comments that have been made come form people who have not even seen the film. One notable exception is that of Roger Moore, a reviewer for the Orlando Sentinel who attended a screening of the film even though he knew it was not open to members of the press. In his disjointed review—which read more like a screed against conservatism than an actual review of a movie—Moore attempted to portray the film as not entertaining. (The story of how he obtained his sneak preview was later recounted in the New York Times.) However, Moore's agenda was transparent to any reader. Moore's panning of the film was subsequently destroyed by the words of Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine. Mr. Shermer told the producers: "Your film, by the way, was beautifully produced. The music, cinematography, and editing were drop-dead powerful. Good job. That's a lot of work to make that all come together into a coherent whole." That's high praise coming from someone who isn't an ID sympathizer and who EXPELLED declares is wrong in his doubts about ID being suppressed. In EXPELLED Mr. Shermer tells Mr. Stein that on the scale between good, solid science and nonsense Intelligent Design is, "three-quarters the way toward the nonsense side." Mr. Shermer disagrees with the message of EXPELLED, but he has the integrity to admit that the film is a must see.